This year the Lady Pilot basketball team did something that is often times viewed as an extreme challenge in sports: defend a national championship. After fighting to achieve an 8-8 record in the MCC this season, the team captured the Midwest Region Championship with a nail-biting win over Grace and earned a two seed in the 2011 NCCAA Championship. From there the Lady Pilots were able to capture three straight victories and knock off Roberts Wesleyan for the title.
Overall, Coach Martinez has had a blast coaching the team this year and is so glad that the group of ladies can share a great memory of a national title.
“To win 21 games is special but to win a national championship at any level is very special and a memory this team will always cherish,” said Martinez. “To describe the team with one word would be ‘relentless’.”
According to Martinez, there are several factors which led to the team’s success this season. It is his belief that the team did a great job of persevering through the month of January when there was unexpected adversity. He also claimed that the team worked very hard to find their niche and were very difficult to beat when they played their game. Martinez was also thrilled with the role playing that took place throughout the season and how teammates consistently supported each other. Lastly, the team was led by outstanding senior leadership and support.
“Bekah Basinger, Carlie Dunbar, Heather Seyfred, and Mandy Yoder wanted to finish their careers on a great note,” stated Martinez.
Although this is the second consecutive season that the Lady Pilots have won the NCCAA Championship after not receiving an at-large bid to compete in the NAIA Tournament, Martinez believes that the MCC is a very challenging conference to play in but that his team is not underrated. He claimed that MCC teams have a great reputation of being talented and competing well in post-season play.
“I think teams in the Mid-Central Conference have great respect across the nation,” said Martinez. “Our teams in the MCC that participate in the NCCAA Nationals usually do really well.”
Apart from this being a great way to send out the seniors and reward the team for their hard work all season, Martinez also feels that this championship has fueled the team to compete hard in the off-season and be prepared for next winter.
“My returners already want to play open gym and start spring workouts. We have a sophomore class who is hungry to play. They have had to play roles behind our upperclassmen and now it is their time to shine next season,” stated Martinez.
Coach Martinez is also excited about next year’s newcomers that will be entering the program.
“Losing a great bunch of seniors is tough to replace but we have a great freshmen class coming in that is going to push the returners to the limit,” said Martinez.